Barack Obama will once again be inserting himself into the Super Bowl on Sunday. This time, CBS has chosen Gayle King, a donor, supporter and family friend to Mr. and Mrs. Obama. Considering that King has partied at the White House, viewers of the pre-game show shouldn’t expect tough questions from the CBS This Morning co-host.
Obama has done an interview before each Super Bowl since 2009 and many of them have included softballs. But none of the previous journalists have been such ardent and open supporters of the President and Mrs. Obama.
Here are some of King’s most effusive statements about the first couple:
"President Obama has done everything that he said he was going to do, and I think people keep forgetting that....if you ask me, I think President Obama is doing a very good job."
— CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King in an April 28, 2012 interview with The Daily Caller.
April 28, 2012.
“Michelle Obama is loving, she's kind, she's passionate, and, more than anything, she loves being First Lady of the United States. This isn't just idle chatter for her. She takes it very, very seriously, and she's looking forward to returning for another four years. They're going to work very hard to make that happen.”
— CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King to Charlie Rose after a January 12, 2012 interview with Michelle Obama.
“I loved your last question because some people would say, what about loyalty to the President? The question that you raised. Interesting time for that book to come out now.”
— CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King to Charlie Rose, October 8, 2014, after watching a clip of an interview of Leon Panetta promoting his tell-all book.
In the 2013, the Media Research Center’s Brent Bozell and Tim Graham wrote about King’s chumminess with the Obamas. From page 154 of Collusion:
In January, Rose’s co-host Gayle King had interviewed Michelle Obama on the occasion of a new book simply called The Obamas by New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor. Michelle Obama insisted that she got along wonderfully with every staffer in the White House, and complained that she was tagged as nosing around in the West Wing policy decisions: “that’s been an image that people have tried to paint of me since, you know, the day Barack announced, that I’m some angry black woman.”
After the interview aired, Rose noted that “there seems to be a nice chemistry there. I mean, you’ve known this person for a long time.” King acknowledged that “I think we should say it’s no secret here at the table that we’re friends.”
No one told viewers that on page 42 of Kantor’s book, she placed King right in the inner circle on the night of the first inauguration: “At 1:00 am, the Obamas returned to the White House for the real celebration, a private party for their family and closest friends and allies – downstairs, in the entertaining spaces, not upstairs in the home that still had not really seen that day. Celebrities including Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King mingled with new cabinet officials, the First Lady’s relatives from the South Side, and the president’s best friends from Chicago.” Obviously CBS hired King in part because she was friends with the Obamas.
The Super Bowl interview has rotated over the years. In 2009, Matt Lauer talked to the President. In 2010, then-CBS anchor Katie Couric scored the interview. In 2011, it was Fox News's Bill O'Reilly. In 2012, Lauer again got the job. In 2013, it returned to CBS and Scott Pelley. In 2014, O'Reilly grilled Obama. The two appearances on Fox constitute rare instances when Obama talked to the network.